Brown Beauty Co-Op aims to bring a mix of skincare, hair, and beauty products for women of color to a 1,000-square foot store at 1365 Connecticut Avenue Northwest. The space is slated to open in December and will feature soothing rose pink tones, evoking a Sephora or Bluemercury-style environment with polished finishes. The pair are going for a modern look that they feel are missing in today’s brick-and-mortar market. “We are not a beauty supply,” explains Kimberly Smith. “We want it to feel luxurious and high-end.”
Patrons will be able to browse a curated selection of products from up-and-coming and established brands at a variety of price points, all designed with darker skin tones in mind, including labels such as Marena Beauty, Hue Noir, Christal Cosmetics, and Joliette by Afrodeity. Designed to better serve and complement darker complexions, these products will range from high-quality foundation, to blushes, eyeshadows, and various lipstick shades. The co-op will predominately stock natural and organic products, which are often more challenging to find for women of color as well.
Kimberly Smith and Amaya Smith are quick to point out that when they say “brown beauty,” it includes all skin tones and ethnicities, not just black women. “We want to be able to serve a lot of other women who are underrepresented in the market like Indian and Latino women,” they explain. “It’s important to acknowledge there are a lot of similar experiences across cultures.”
The boutique will have a salon space for makeup application and hair tutorials, open for both appointments and drop-ins (so you can get a quick touch up on your lunch break). The founders are stacking up the calendar with rotating pop-ups and events as well, positioning the store as a community space where women of color can feel empowered. They also plan to serve as an incubator space for independent beauty companies trying to get a foothold in the local market. The co-founders are hoping that the space will fill a vacuum in DC’s beauty scene.
“Having lived and worked here for the past ten years, it has always just surprised me how culturally diverse it is, yet when it comes to beauty, I can still go into stores and not find products for me,” says Kimberly Smith. “To me that’s quite unbelievable. It’s not like we are in middle America. In this region we make up a huge percent of the population at all different levels of socioeconomic status.”